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I’M GETTING STRAWBERRIES IN A SUMMER MEADOW WITH A HINT OF SHEEP…

As a lad growing up just outside of Bradford in West Yorkshire, I suffered a few concussions. One rugby related, one falling off my bike over a bridge railing and into a dried out river bed and one from being beaten up one night walking home from a school outing. That last one still amuses me: I can’t remember much about it but I do remember the last words I heard spoken by one assailant to another just before I lost consciousness: “Look the [email protected]$t^#d has dented my shoe with his head…”, even at the time I thought that was quite funny.

The consequences of these growing-up events is that I don’t seem to have a great sense of smell – though, in retrospect, that was probably a real blessing when my son was much younger.

So when someone asks me what I am getting from the nose of a wine, I really have to concentrate and get deep into it. Now, you can smell pretty immediately if a wine is corked – even sparkling wine – which is why, when I am brought a bottle I have ordered in a restaurant, I just look to see the colour and clarity and smell it: I don’t bother with the tears / legs on the side of the glass nor do I taste it unless I am not sure from the nose. That can all wait for later because if the wine isn’t corked, the restaurant isn’t typically going to take it back just because you’ve made the wrong choice: “I’m sorry, I thought the £5,000 bottle of Le Pin was a £50.00 bottle of Lupin Rouge – “ isn’t going to raise a sympathetic smile from the sommelier.

Maybe because I’m conscious about my sense of smell, as a young man in my 20s I was always nervous to give my view about what I was getting from the nose of a wine. I didn’t want to appear to be completely off-beam compared to the “experts”. I suspect I was not alone in this. And it has nothing to do with sense of smell: in fact, my sense of smell is probably fine. My taste buds are seemingly unaffected and the flavour receptors of your mouth are inextricably linked to those of your nose - most of what you taste is actually what you smell believe it or not: try holding your nose and tasting your food!

So where am I going with all this, I hear you ask. The simple message is, there is no right or wrong answer when describing the scent and flavour of a wine. It is personal to the individual: we all have different senses of smell and what works for you is right: what does it remind you of – express that; someone else may have a similar “memory jolting “ smell which is equally right. But never be bamboozled into being told you are wrong and never be embarrassed to say exactly what you smell. There is a wonderful book by Berry Bros. Wine School, called: “Exploring and Tasting Wine” – I recommend it to everyone and it will fill you with confidence.

Oh, but one last thing, please don’t describe All Angels as smelling of old rugby socks – there is no way that could ever be right…

I’M GETTING STRAWBERRIES IN A SUMMER MEADOW WITH A HINT OF SHEEP…